Vote for the Next Arsenal Manager

November 22, 2013

Having a few minutes free I start as I often do  to consider life after Mr Wenger. Who doesn’t?

The man has been a stalwart but even he will have to let go at some point. SAF was approaching his dotage when he retired and my hope is that Mr Wenger will retire in time to enjoy the evening of his life. He is approaching 65 and it would not surprise me if he refuses to sign a longterm contract. In which case, let’s play the “Manager Game” …….

I have certain requirements; they must be Arsenal men, they must be under 50, they must be winners,and they must be comfortable with the press. So that rules out most chaps. But who could possibly take over?

Many of our ex-players have taken coaching badges over the past decade and as such can be considered.

1. Tony Adams. Don’t laugh. This is Mr. Arsenal we are talking about. He has PL and foreign managership experience, he has interesting views on Arsenal and football in general which could improve the club. He knows how to organise a defence and above all else TA is a winner. So why not? Well …..

2. Remi Garde. This little fellow is definitely in the frame. Currently manager of Lyons in France and a self-confessed Spurs hater. He has the experience and has already (according to the Redtops) been approached to be Director of Football at THOF.  He speaks fluent German as well so will be able to chat to our new signings.

3. Dennis. The people’s choice. Currently working at Ajax and doing his badges. Could DB10 really become an Arsenal manager? The flying is the first problem, then there is the doubt that he could ever be a Number One. I can easily see him as an assistant manager or a coach but The Big Man? Somehow I doubt it but it would be nice and he does look good in a suit!

4. TH14. Why not? The man is hugely intelligent, absolutely loves the club, has massive experience and an excellent understudying of tactics. A man motivator, brilliant with the media and a true Arsenal icon. Manager material? Why not?

5. Steve Bould. He certainly must be considered. He has been working his way through the manager ranks at Arsenal and now gets to learn from The Great Man. Has he the “nuts” for the job? Well, he would certainly command respect! Woe betide any player who dared diss him. He has done very well with the youth team and is well thought of by the club. Has he the gravitas to take over from AW? You decide.

6. Patrick Vieira. I have said for a few years that PV4 will manage Arsenal, he has everything we need; intelligence, leadership, the badges, media savvy, a love for The Arsenal and above all, he is a winner. It would be excellent if he could be the first black manager of a big PL club. Some say that his time at MC makes him a traitor and his criticism of some of our recent (last season) form was ill-judged but he is a man who speaks his mind and for that we should congratulate him – after all he was only saying what we all were!

7. Someone else. Now this is the most likely bet given the youth and inexperience of the above group.  It is likely that if AW retires next summer or in 2016/7, we will have another Bruce Rioch figure before the Arsenal man gets the gig. There isn’t anyone who comes to mind – Deschamps, Low, Klopp are unlikely to come – yes, I know, Klopp would be brilliant. OK …. just for you I will put him in the vote

8. Mr Klopp. Top bloke, superb at managing BD but who knows how he would fare in the PL.

So vote away …. you have 3 votes so we can get a clearer picture


Do Players Need To Like Each Other?

November 4, 2013

Bear with me… this is, indeed, a Post about the current Arsenal team (it will get there eventually).

Way back in the early 1990s an ex Arsenal lad who had moved to pastures new was tearing up the Premier League, scoring goals for fun.

I refer to one Andrew Cole, who had two great seasons at Newcastle from 1993 to 1995.

Such was his form and prowess at the Barcodes that he earned an England call-up under Terry Venables. He made his debut as a late substitute against Uruguay – replacing a certain Mr Edward Sheringham. As Sheringham left the pitch he offered nary a glance towards the debuant; not a handshake; nor even a quick word of encouragement, far less a pat on the back. He just acted as if Cole did not exist.

The perceived insult wounded the tender soul of young Andy and he vowed never to forget it.

Fast forward a year or so and Cole signed for Manchester United where, playing alongside Eric Cantona, he continued to thrive.

But in football, as in life, fate often has a way of putting chewing gum on your bus seat and, sure enough, in 1997 Eric Cantona left United and they replaced him with Mr Edward Sheringham.

As Cole put it some years later: “In the summer of 1997, after Eric Cantona left Manchester United, Sheringham arrived. We played together for years. We scored a lot of goals. I never spoke a single word to him.”

And during that period United were certainly successful.

So does it mean that relationships between players don’t matter? That team mates can hate each other with the sort of loathing that a Totteringham fan has for bathwater?

Well, there are certainly other examples beyond Cole and Sheringham (who, let’s not forget, went to Man United but was still a runt). The Bayern Munich and Germany midfielders Lothar Matthaus and Stefan Effenberg would each have happily seen the other fed slowly into a wood chipper; and in the days of the Wimbledon Crazy Gang (younger readers, be thankful you don’t know what I’m talking about) John “Fash the Bash” Fashanu shared mutual antipathy with Lawrie Sanchez.

In fact it got so bad that Fashanu and Sanchez decided to “sort it out” during a training session. As a black belt in karate, Fashanu was expecting to teach Sanchez a lesson – but I remember Tony Adams once described Sanchez as the hardest man in football (a bit like the Pope describing someone as the holiest person on earth).

Fash’s memoirs take up the story: “Sanch gave me a shot and, give him credit, it wasn’t a bad shot. But I thought, don’t hit Sanch, don’t mark his face, and my mind went back to when Muhammed Ali fought against the martial artist in New York, and the martial artist just kicked the back of his legs until it broke the tissues in his calves and he submitted. So I thought I’d teach Sanch a lesson and gave a sweep of the legs, but Sanch has calves like most people have thighs and he didn’t move. So I gave him another couple, but Sanch came back at me. So I thought, I’m gonna take this guy out, and I hit him with one of the best shots I’d been training with – BAM! Take that, Sanch! – right in the solar plexus, a shot that would supposedly knock a horse down. And still he stood there. Then Terry Burton came over to break us up.”

Happy days.

Anyway, this question of whether it’s better for players to like their team mates occurred to me while watching our game against Liverpool on Saturday.

You will remember the chance that Luis Suarez had towards the end of the match, as Liverpool were struggling to fight their way back from the firm slapping-down which we had been administering.

Suarez profited from a mistake by the BFG and bore down on goal from Liverpool’s left side. He tried a shot which went across the face of goal and wide, not troubling Szczesny. Daniel Sturridge had been racing into the right hand side of the box and felt that Suarez should have passed to him rather than shooting. Whether or not Suarez should have passed is neither here nor there. What happened next was fascinating: Sturridge threw his arms out and back, like a child trying to be a superhero; he jutted out his chin, his eyes bulged and he donned the time-honoured countenance of the mortally outraged (think Stephen Fry being told that – no thanks – no-one was interested in his latest anecdote).

All this was directed at his team mate, Suarez. It was not a brief, understandable moment of frustration of the kind any player can be prone to: Sturridge held this tortured pose for many long seconds. His suffering began to take on Jesus-like dimensions. Poor old Suarez glanced his way but chose not to engage.

At the time I thought: “these are two players who don’t like each other: two selfish goal-grabbers who are in this only for personal glory.”  If you feel your colleague should have passed, you talk about it later – you don’t try to humiliate him in front of millions

And despite the examples mentioned above – of bitter feuds festering in successful teams – it cannot, as a general rule, be good to have disharmony within a team.

Look at Arsenal in recent years.

There is no question that we’ve had some troublesome individuals in the dressing room: Samir Nasri, who could probably make the Dalai Lama swear; Emmanuel “all about me” Adebayor; William “Slightly Deranged” Gallas.

And one of the factors in our gradual improvement has been the clearing out of the disputatious types and the forging of strong bonds between the players who remain.

There seems to be a good, mutually supportive vibe among the YBCs (the Young British Core), but experienced, level-headed foreigners like Arteta, Giroud and Mertesacker have also clearly been instrumental in creating unity and fellow-purpose.

It may be easier to say during the sort of successful period we are currently enjoying, but I really feel our squad of players like each other and are playing for each other rather than for their next big money move elsewhere. No-one exemplifies this selflessness better than Olivier Giroud, who seems as happy when he assists as when he scores.

So, to sum up, Sturridge and Suarez will continue to score goals, but football success is often down to fine margins – and not being united on the field is one of those things that can have a slight, but significant, negative impact.

Over the course of the season I would back our Harmonious Heroes to do better than ‘Pool’s Fractious Forwards. We will see.

RockyLives


Arsenal Arsenal’s Friday News Roundup

October 11, 2013

Saturday:

The news broke that Jack Wilshere had been photographed with a cigarette in his mouth, naturally the anti Arsenal media jumped all over the story, they haven’t had much to moan about recently, Arsene Wenger “fumed” at the news, oh aren’t these journos funny, and claimed that the player was risking his health as well as his reputation, he went on to say that he would be “speaking” to the 21 year old about it.

Liverpool moved to the top of the table with a predictable win over Crystal Palace, Arsenal target Suarez scored after just 13 minutes. Man City came from behind to beat Everton as did Man U to beat rock bottom Sunderland. It took two goals from unknown teenager Adnan Januzaj to spare the blushes of Gollum and his two mis-firing strikers Rooney and the Dutch bloke, who missed an absolute sitter near the end of the game.

Sunday: On this day …

6th. October 1973 a seventeen year old mid-fielder made his debut for Arsenal, coming on as a substitute for Geof Blockley against Birmingham City, soon to become one of the best players to pull on a Gunner’s shirt, Liam Brady. Forty years ago and it seems like yesterday.. 😀

In the lunch time kick-off Chelsea secured a win with a late goal and a late, late goal against Norwich City to move into third place in the table.

Later in the day, with a somewhat stuttering performance, we got a point at West Brom which was enough to return us to the top of the table on goals scored. A good position going into the international break.

Spurs returned to their true form taking a three nothing hammering from the team from The Boleyn Ground. Despite wide spread chanting of the “Y” word by the home fans police made just one arrest, although they have announced that they will be looking at video evidence and could not rule out further arrests.

Monday:

Naturally Jack Wilshere grabbed the headlines, and the pun prize must go to Mr. Henry Winter of The Telegraph. “After all the controversy over pictures of him smoking, it had to be Jack Wilshere lighting up the afternoon here. It had to end here with the Arsenal mid-fielder enjoying a draw.”

The incident took place outside Dstrkt Club in Rupert Street, Soho on Thursday evening, the squad had been given two days off following the win over Napoli on Tuesday. Wilshere was on a “team night out”.

Jack Wilshere has admitted he made a mistake by smoking a cigarette but has insisted he will never be drawn in to it again in future. “Players make mistakes,” he said. “I am not a smoker. I spoke with the boss and he asked me what happened, I explained to him and we sorted it out”.

Editors note. It is believed that the owner of the club has an “issue” with spelling. 😀

Tuesday:

England called up Kieran Gibbs to the squad for the two internationals after Ashley Cole pulled out with a rib injury, Kieran gets recognition for his excellent early season form.

Aaron Ramsey received the Barclays Player of the Month award for September and Arsene Wenger picked up the Barclays Manager of the Month award. Ramsey scored five times in five appearances while Wenger oversaw a perfect month with six wins in six matches.

Wednesday:

In the wake of the FA’s attempt to poach a player born in Belgium of Albanian/Kosovan parents Jack Wilshere entered the argument over “foreign” players playing for England. “The only people who play for England Should be English people”. Wilshere was talking at St Georges prior the upcoming internationals. “If you live in England for five years it doesn’t make you English. You shouldn’t play”.

I want to come back to Arsenal, says Bergkamp: Yes Dennis would like to return “at some stage”, “but maybe not for at least another three to five years”. “I don’t see myself as a manager. I see myself as part of the coaching staff. I really enjoy training with the strikers”. Yes please Dennis anytime you like. 😀

Nicklas Bendtner’s reputation for arrogance often precedes him but the Arsenal striker believes such preconceptions are inaccurate.

Star (in his own mind) striker Nicklas Bendtner says he is a changed man. The reason the Great (in his own mind) Dane gives for his resurrection is that he has had a baby. Now I’ve heard of virgin births, but this is virgin on the ridiculous. During his time at Juventus some accused him of being “too fat to play”, well now we know the truth, he was pregnant. Talking to Arsenal Player he said “First of all I had a baby, which changed me a lot, I think a lot of people say that you have babies and they change you and stuff but for me I could really feel a big difference to my life. Being abroad showed me a lot of different things and different aspects of how to live and how to cope with problems. That has given me a lot more as a man for now”.

Thursday:

Overnight news – Carl Jenkinson was called up by the England U21s, recognition for that will help his confidence and could be a good thing for Arsenal as well, some competitive game time for him ahead of a couple of games standing in for the injured Bacary Sagna.

The furore over Jack Wilshere’s comment “only English players should play for England” continued with an attack on him by a South African bloke named Kevin who plays cricket for England. Most of the critics seem to have missed the context of what young Jack was saying, Professional players brought into the country should not be able to play for England, thus preventing home grown youngsters having the chance.

Backing for Wilshere’s stance came from Harry Redknap on Radio 4s Today Programme.

Tony Adams celebrated his 47th birthday.

Later in the day Arsene Wenger revealed that he may remain in England for the rest of his life. As reported in the Evening Standard. “I can see the rest of my life in England, why not?” he said. “I feel comfortable in this country because we share a common passion for football and as well I am very thankful for this country for having accepted me and giving me a chance. “I am happy on the football pitch.”

Written by Norfolk Gooner


Tony Adams and Santi Cazorla at Loggerheads

June 24, 2013

There have been two important Arsenal-related statements this week – one from a club legend and one from a legend-in-the-making.

The interesting thing is that the two statements are diametrically opposed to each other.

The established legend – Tony Adams – says Arsenal are “miles off” winning the Premiership title.

The legend-to-be – Santi Cazorla – says the opposite. He reckons we can definitely be among the trophies next year and that our form during last season’s run-in has given the players the confidence they need to push on to glory.

So who is right? Little or Large? Rodders or Adam Sandler?

Both deserve to be listened to. Big Tone because he embodies the spirit of modern Arsenal and he knows what it takes to win the English league title; and little Santi because he knows the strengths and weaknesses of the players around him and, quite possibly, also has an inkling about our summer transfer intentions.

Tony’s exact quote was: “It’s time that Arsenal won something again, even the FA Cup or the League Cup. But, I can’t see it to be honest. They are still not good enough in certain areas of the team. And they are miles off the title.”

We can speculate about what he means by us being not good enough in certain areas. I would imagine he’s referring to not having a world class striker and, possibly, he feels there is still something lacking in our defensive play despite the successful run-in. Maybe a better goalkeeper is also part of his thinking.

Most fans would probably agree with those sentiments. It’s why we’re all anxiously scanning the news every day for the much-anticipated transfer coups which, we hope, will fix those weaknesses.

In fairness to Tony, there was no follow-up question (or at least none reported) asking him whether he thought we could compete if we made two or three good signings.

But his use of the phrase “miles off” suggests that he thinks our shortcomings are not going to be solved by the arrival of some new faces this summer. Interestingly though, he also maintained his backing of Arsene Wenger as the man to lead Arsenal to future glory.

Santi Cazorla, as you might expect from a current player, was more upbeat. He said: “When the team does not win and we do not get the results we want, the collective confidence does drop a little and that is natural.

“Now we have put in a spectacular run-in and you can see the difference in mentality. We have great players. I am sure we will be a better team and improve. This season we hope we can be even better and win trophies and the supporters can enjoy it. That is what Arsenal really wants.”

Cazorla had an outstanding first year in the English Premier League and was many fans’ choice for Player of the Season.

He has seen at first hand what we’re up against in our challenge to win the title next year. He has played against the financially-doped, overpaid stars of the Northern and Southern Oilers and against the referees’ favourite team from the red half of Manchester. He has tasted victory and defeat against our pox-ridden neighbours.

He has also seen what his team mates are capable of: the ability to grind out wins in difficult circumstances and the willingness to work for one another that was so evident in the last 10 or so games of the past season.

So whose word do we believe? Tony Adams’ or Santi Cazorla’s?

For me it has to be Santi – and not just because I am of a generally optimistic outlook regarding where Arsenal is heading.

He has been part of Spain’s all-conquering national side so – like Adams – he also knows a thing or two about winning and if he believes we can do it I am inclined to go along with him.

Tony, on the other hand, has a track record of making odd statements and, occasionally, some pretty negative comments about Arsenal.

For example, as recently as mid April he was slagging off the club’s transfer policy and confidently pronouncing that we would not make Top Four by the end of the season.

I have no doubt that he was speaking from the heart and from a desire to see Arsenal at the top again, but he was wrong about the Top Four (it may have been a squeaky-bum finish, but we did it) and his comments about our transfer policy are reflective of the ill-informed views of many fans (ie, they did not take into account the financial background of the last seven years).

It wasn’t the only occasion in recent seasons on which Tony talked down our end-of-season prospects while we are still in the thick of the fight. In fact he pops up with this sort of negativity as often as your common or garden Redknapp. And like Twitchy, he always turns out to be wrong.

If we make the sort of ambitious signings that we’re all hoping for it would be nice to hear some upbeat words from the big man before the new season begins.

If Tony thinks he should have been made Chairman of the Board at Arsenal after the news of Peter Hill-Wood stepping down, he might well reflect on what one of the principle roles of a chairman is: namely, to be the public flag-bearer of the club; to always talk it up and to keep his more pessimistic thoughts to himself.

Mind you, even if Chairman is a stretch, I think it would be a public relations masterstroke for Arsenal to invite Tony onto the Board as a non-executive director.

RockyLives


Vote for your favourite defenders from Arsenal’s modern era

June 22, 2013

Today you get to vote for your favourite defenders from Arsenal’s modern era. The articles published on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week provided in depth profiles on our best defenders spanning from Peter Simpson who played his first game in 1960 to the present day.

To provide a broader picture of readers’ preferences, you can vote for up to 3 players in this poll.

Thanks to GunnerN5 and Gooner In Exile for this excellent series of posts providing a forensic analysis of the best players in Arsenal’s history. Today we conclude the defence …. next week we start the midfield.


Arsenal’s Greatest Defenders Day 6

June 20, 2013

Continuing our Summer series of articles in search of Arsenal’s greatest ever team, this week we continue to highlight the defenders.  Don’t forget to take the opportunity to choose your personal favourite defender by voting in the poll at the end of the week

17. Nigel Winterburn: 1987-2000

Nigel played in 584 games over a 13 year period.

He was born in Arley, Warwickshire and began his career with Birmingham City gaining his first youth caps for England while with the club. He left to join Oxford United and then in 1983 he was signed on a free transfer by Wimbledon who gained promotion to the First Division in 1986, at the same time Nigel won England under-21 honours. Nigel was the Wimbledon supporters, Player of the Year, for each of the four seasons he spent at Plough Lane.

RackMultipart.5031.0_display_imageArsenal, who was looking for a long-term replacement for Captain Kenny Sansom, paid Wimbledon £350,000 in the summer of 1987 and Nigel became an Arsenal player. He began his Arsenal career at right-back even though he was heavily left-footed. When Sansom left Arsenal Nigel moved to his more familiar left back role and stayed there for more for more than a decade.

He and fellow full back Lee Dixon flanked central defenders Tony Adams and David O’Leary later being joined by Steve Bould, George Graham would often play all five of them as his defensive unit. They played together. as Arsenal beat holders Liverpool to a last-game showdown at Anfield for the First Division title, he made his England debut later that same year.

Arsenal ended 1990 trophy less, but went on to win the league title again the next year, with only one loss. Two years later he was in the Arsenal team which won both cup competitions and thus completed his domestic set of medals. Arsenal defeated Sheffield Wednesday 2–1 in both the League Cup and FA Cup finals. In 1994, Arsenal beat Italian side Parma’s 1–0, to win the European Cup Winners Cup, Arsenal’s first success continentally for a quarter of a century.

Arsène Wenger arrived at Arsenal at the end of 1996 and instilled new self-awareness and dietary habits into the Arsenal squad, allowing the ageing defence to thrive in their latter years and prolong their football careers. Arsenal won the “double” of Premiership and FA Cup in 1998 and in 2000 they reached the UEFA Cup final.

He left Arsenal and joined West Ham United in 2000 for a fee of £250,000, playing in 94 games in all competitions for West Ham and retired in 2003

He played in 429 matches for Arsenal placing him the fourth on the all time list.

18. Tony Adams: 1983-2002

Tony played in 669 games over a 19 year period.

Born in Romford, London, Tony grew up in Dagenham before signing for Arsenal as a schoolboy in 1980. He made his Arsenal first team debut in November 1983 just four weeks after his 17th birthday and became a regular player in the 1985–86 season, winning the Football League Cup Final, his first major trophy, in 1987.

gun__1357644158_adams_tottenham1993Alongside Lee Dixon, Nigel Winterburn and Steve Bould, he was part of the “famous back four” that lined up in Arsenal’s defence – they became renowned for the use of their well-disciplined offside trap. On 1 January 1988, he became Arsenal captain at the age of 21 and remained as such until his retirement 14 years later.

Their, strong and disciplined defence was  a major a factor in Arsenal winning the League Cup in 1986–87 followed by two First Division championship titles; the first in 1988–89 and the second in 1990–91 after losing only one game all season. In 1992–93 he became captain of the first English side to win the League Cup and FA Cup double, and he lifted the European Cup Winners’ Cup the following year.

All along Tony had a ghost in his closet, namely his battle with alcoholism, which started in the mid-1980s and became increasingly worse; reportedly he was often being involved in fights in nightclubs. On 6 May 1990, he crashed his car and when  breathalysed his blood alcohol level was found to be more than four times the legal drink-drive limit, in December of that year, he was found guilty and he was imprisoned for four months. Unfortunately his alcoholism continued and he was involved in further alcohol-related incidents. In September of 1996, he went public admitting that he was an alcoholic and was receiving treatment. Since his recovery he has become one of the most high-profile recovering alcoholics in the UK and his battle with alcohol is detailed in his autobiography, “Addicted”.

The arrival of Arsène Wenger as Arsenal manager in October 1996 was also played a significant part in his recovery as Wenger reformed the club’s dietary practices and the players’ lifestyles. Wenger showed his faith in Tony by sticking by him and keeping him as the club’s captain, the improvements in the regime probably helped to extend his career by several years. Arsene’s trust was rewarded with Tony captaining the club to two Premiership and FA Cup Doubles, in 1997–98 and 2001–02 – he is the only player in English football history to have captained a title-winning team in three different decades.

In August 2002, just before the start of the 2002–03 season, he announced his retirement from professional football after a career spanning almost 20 years in which he played 668 matches for Arsenal making him second on the all time appearance list, he is also the most successful captain in the club’s history.

He made his debut for England against Spain in 1987, and played in Euro 88, scoring one of England’s two goals. He was the first player to represent England who had been born after the 1966 World Cup win. In total he appeared 66 times for England.

Nicknamed “Mr Arsenal”, he was honoured by Arsenal with a testimonial game against Celtic in May 2002 with many Arsenal legends playing, including Ian Wright, John Lukic and Adams’s fellow back four stalwarts, Dixon, Winterburn and Bould. The game finished 1–1 with Lee Dixon, in his final appearance for the Gunners, getting their goal.

In 2004, Tony was inducted into the English Football Hall of Fame in recognition of his impact on the English game. A statue of Adams was placed outside Emirates Stadium in celebration of the club’s 125th anniversary on 9 December, 2011. He has also been honoured with the MBE for his contribution to football.

19. Lee Dixon: 1988-2002

Lee played in 619 games over a 14 year period.

Born in Manchester, he was a boyhood Manchester City supporter. He began his professional playing career in the lower divisions joining Burnley as an apprentice in 1980, turning professional in 1982 after which he played for Chester City and Bury before joining Stoke City in 1986.

His performances attracted the attention of Arsenal and he was signed by Arsenal boss George Graham in 1988 following the departure of England right back, Viv Anderson, to Manchester United. This was the first time that he had played in the First Division and it took a while for him to be given a first team role at Highbury. Nigel Winterburn had been a guarded success in the unfamiliar role of right back, though Lee did make his debut against Luton Town in February 1988 and played six times in total before the season ended. In the new season, Winterburn moved across to left back, allowing Dixon to take over the No.2 shirt, which he duly did for well over ten years.

7511f332b29ae01378552e5be565a39cHe and Winterburn made the full back positions their own for the next decade or so, while Captain Tony Adams and the long-serving David O’Leary operated in the middle. Later in 1988 they were joined by Steve Bould who, like Dixon before him, had been spotted by Graham playing for Stoke City. These five defenders, often playing as a back five together and were the foundation stones of much of Arsenal’s success.

He wrote in his column in The Independent of the defence that he played in at Arsenal.

“I was fortunate to play in an Arsenal back line that earned itself a reputation as being OK. I’m not trying to be overly modest in saying that, as individuals, we weren’t the best players in the world. But certainly all my weaknesses were compensated for by Tony Adams, Nigel Winterburn, Martin Keown and Steve Bould, and vice versa. If one of us wasn’t playing well, the others picked up the slack”

His career at Arsenal saw him collect four league champion’s medals, three FA Cup winner’s medals and a UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup medal. He was named in the PFA Team of the Year twice, for the seasons 1989–90 and 1990–91.

His retirement came at the end of Arsenal’s domestic double-winning 2001–02 season, their second in his time at the club.

He made his England début in April 1990 in a World Cup warm-up game against Czechoslovakia, ending up with a total of 22 caps.

His 619 appearances for Arsenal place him third on the all time list.

20. Martin Keown: 1981-2004

Martin played in 449 games over a 23 year period.

Born in Oxford, Martin first played for local sides and his local Gaelic football team, before joining Arsenal on a schoolboy contract in 1980; he made his professional debut while on loan at Brighton & Hove Albion in 1984. His debut for Arsenal came in November 1985, when Don Howe was still manager. He played 22 league games that season but when George Graham became manager in 1986, he decided that Martin was not part of his plans and sold him to Aston Villa for £200,000.

Villa was relegated after finishing bottom of the First division on 1986-87. After Graham Taylor was appointed manager Villa won promotion back to the First Division, Martin helped them secure their top flight status the following season, but was sold to Everton in 1989, following which Everton sold Martin back to Arsenal in 1993.

_39363750_keown_forlanThis move created intense competition for the central defensive positions between himself, Andy Linighan, Steve Bould and Captain Tony Adams, for places in the centre of one of the best English defences of the 1990s. He rarely missed a game in his first four full seasons back at Highbury, though he was used sparingly by Arsene Wenger in the 1997–98 double winning campaign, playing just 18 times. But Martin still claimed the first two major trophies of his career, after well over a decade of waiting. He went on to became a key player in Arsène Wenger’s double winning sides of 1998 and 2002, he remained as a first team regular until the end of the 2002–03 season, when the Gunners won their ninth FA Cup.

Martin remained at Arsenal until 2004, winning another Premier League title, before being released on a free transfer. His final season he made 10 league appearances – the minimum to qualify for a title winner’s medal. On his release he signed for Leicester City, but left after less than six months and signed for Reading in January 2005, he played until the end of the season and then he retired.

He made his England debut in 1992 against France, earning a total of 43 caps.

His 449 appearances for Arsenal place him ninth on the all time list.

Written by GunnerN5 and compiled by Gooner in Exile


#once a gooner always a gooner?

September 22, 2012

I often come across this hashtag on twitter about former Arsenal players. Usually it’s in reply to Cesc or Henry saying something complimentary about Arsenal. Personally I think Cesc should be #oncebarcaalwaysbarca but that’s just me. I’ve always wondered how Arsenal fans make up their minds about which former players deserve our support/love and which deserve our contempt and the ones we could say neutral. Here is a list. Make your own minds up

Dennis Bergkamp

Real name God. Finished his career at Arsenal after signing several 1 year rolling contracts. The most gifted Arsenal player in my limited experience.

My Verdict Always a gooner

Ian Wright

Ian was top scorer for the Arsenal until Thierry took his crown. Since he retired he likes to wind gooners up on talksh*te and says he’s a Millwall fan but I think his heart is in the right place.

My verdict Always a gooner

Tony Adams

“Mr Arsenal” Spent his entire career at Arsenal. Famously said “Remember the name on the front of the shirt and they’ll remember the name on the back”

My verdict Always a gooner

Patrick Vieira

He came from Senegal to play for Arsenal. He was a great player for us but I feel he’s tainted himself working (and tapping up our players) for the northern oilers.

My Verdict Traitor

Cesc Fabregas

Cesc came to us from the Barca academy when he was 16. It was inevitable that he would go back someday. I think his timing was all wrong. Whatever talent he naturally has, Wenger made him the player he is today (and he’s sitting on their bench)

My verdict Traitor

Ashley Hole

He was the best left back in a generation. Was offered 60K PW by Dein but the board objected and would only give him 55K famously making him swerve his car (if only) and go for a secret meeting with Maureen. Still can’t stop talking about us. I get the feeling he’s a bit bitter despite the trophies.

My verdict Traitor

Thierry Henry

Our all-time top scorer and Monarch. Like Cesc, he went to Barca but unlike the Spaniard he’d helped us to win trophies. He got the CL he wanted and dedicated it to Arsenal. Came back last winter and scored the winners against Sunderland and Leeds.

My verdict Always a gooner.

Robin van Persie

He was with us for 7 years, Spent a lot of time injured, had one season without injury and f***ed off. He grew up as an arsenal fan but the “little boy inside him” was screaming Manchester United.

My verdict Scum

There are plenty more but you get the idea:

Eduardo Always a gooner

Eboue Always a gooner

Freddie Always a gooner

Nasri traitor

Gilberto

Flamini

Lansbury

George Graham

Dixon

Seaman

What do you think?

Written by goonermichael


Who is our Best Youth Player over the last 20 years?

May 22, 2012

Who is the best player to come through the Arsenal Youth Programme? Not signed as kids like Theo, Cesc and Kolo from other clubs but actually raised at THOF

We have seen some wonderful players come through in the last 20+ years (which is my time frame). On a quiet day why don’t we have a little reminisce?

First up has to be Mr Arsenal. Tony Adams: TA joined AFC as at 15 and played in the first team at 17. He was captain at 21 having already won a trophy (the League Cup ’87). He then went on to Captain the club for 14 seasons, have a statue outside the Emirates and become a true AFC hero. Was he our best homegrown?

My 2nd Fave TA goal v THFC at Wembley

Or was it Rocky Rocastle? How many players are still sung about 20 years after he left the club? Rocky joined us at 16. Played in the Double team of ’89.  Sold when GG got sick of players with any flair, but left behind unforgettable memories to those lucky enough to see him in the jersey.

My Fave Rocky Goal (WHL 1987)

Or The Merse? Paul Merson was a special talent, capable of the most delightful lob I have seen. Not pray, not strong in the tackle but graceful and intelligent. It must be said that thanks to his off-filed activities he could be frustrating as well.  Injuries, off-field problems, lack of form all hindered him yetThe Merse remained a fan’s favourite.  AFter 12 years at AFC, Mr Wenger offered Paul a 2 year contract but The Merse went to *Boro who offered twice the wages (history repeats!).

A couple of years later and Ashley Cole forced his way into the first team, taking over from club legend, Nigel Winterburn. So much has been written about Cashley but whatever your standpoint on the man’s morality and general demeanor, he is without doubt a fantastic footballer. At 31 he remains the best LB in the PL if not the World, and I wish AW had paid him the extra money -he is that good.  3 PL medals, 7 FA Cup winners medals CL winner, 93 Caps, 5 times PFA team of the Year, twice UEFA LB of the year – a wonderful career, which shows that it is not always the nice guys who come first!

Wilshere. The Great Arsenal Hope. the player future England teams will be built around, let alone  The Arsenal. Who knows what would have happened had JW not missed the season?  The future midfield squad of O-C, Wilshere, Ramsey, Song, Coquelin and Frimpong (+ any signings) is frightening. Those early YouTube clips of JW controlling games at the age of 15 were so exciting. Jack is the Real Deal. Can he keep his feet on the ground and not become another Merse? Can he fully recover from his ankle injury and not become a Diaby? If the answer is Yes, then Jack Wilshere is very likely to be cast in bronze.

I have missed out some great homegrown Youth players: Parlour, Keown, Micky T etc ( I am sure there are others). For that I apologise.

Roll me down Coopers Hill and cover me in pig fat but in my opinion our greatest Youth player over the past 20 years has been Ashley. Odious man but top quality player.

What do you think?

Written by Big Raddy


Simply the Best. Your Favourite Goals?

November 15, 2011

“A good ball by Dixon finding Smith – onto Thomas charging through the midfield, Thomas – it’s up for grabs now. Thomas , right at the end. An unbelievable end to the season.”  My favourite goal of all time, probably every Arsenal fans favourite goal. There have been plenty  more beautiful (TH v MU 2000) but certainly none more dramatic. Those 15 odd seconds have been replayed in my mind thousands of times – times of stress, times of sorrow and times of hardship but when the muck hits the fan and I need a lift, a quick mental reference to Liverpool on the 26th May 1989, and for a few seconds all is well with the world.

Why bring that up here and now? Well, because we are in the midst of a veritable desert of football,…..and because GIE suggested I write about my favourite goals.

2nd. ” It’s all over I think. Some people are on the pitch, they think it’s all over – It is now.” Geoff Hurst 1966. I was in Switzerland at the time on a school holiday. I had attended the Quarter Finals and was in that wonderful stage of childhood when football is everything – before girls came along and ruined  changed everything. Our hotel was packed with German kids and I wish I could say we were magnanimous in our victory. Sadly, the worst of our jingoism came to the fore…….. Brilliant.  This was THE time to be English – The Beatles, The Stones, Carnaby Street, the Mini (both car and skirt!) WC Winners etc etc. A year later Sargeant Pepper was released which changed my life but nothing came near to the feeling of seeing that rocket shot fly past Tolkowski and seeing The Kaiser’s (Franz Beckenbauer) head drop.

3rd.  “Hutchison and now Bould. And it’s Tony Adams put though by Steve Bould. Would you believe it? That sums it all up”. TA Everton 1998. Perhaps my favourite day ever at Highbury. The weather was brilliant, we had a fantastic team, we had won the title, I hadn’t spent too long in the Gunners Pub, I was with all my Arsenal mates – friends with whom I had travelled all over Europe and shared pints, train journeys, thousands of motorway miles,  and all the highs and lows of following OUR team. And Tony was not just Our Leader, he was Mr Arsenal; to see him finish the season like that brought me to tears –  and I am not exaggerating.

This signed picture stands on my desk as I write

4th. “There’s Pires. He’s picked out Bergkamp, It’s Bergkamp with a chance and he’s taken it. Brilliant goal.”  DB10 Newcastle 2002. I could have picked any of DB goals – he scored so many great ones . The hatrick at Leicester  in ’97  was awesome, probably the best I have ever seen, but this goal was something spectacular. The vision, the strength to hold off some Orc, the composure of the turn and the finish, all the mark of a genius of a footballer. I recall when we signed Dennis – I was in shock. At the time we had gone through some of the worst football ever seen at Highbury – winning teams but simply dire football (apart from the best defence ever seen). Suddenly DB arrives and heralds a New Dawn. Mr Wenger came soon after and together they created something very special. Thank you Dennis.

I could go on and on. Thierry scored so many fabulous goals but 3 stand out – MU 2000 scored right in front of me at the Clock End, Spurs when he beat the whole team, and that marvel at the Bernabeu; Ray Kennedy at WHL  ’71, Charlie George at Wembley, Freddie at Cardiff, Wrighty’s lob and volley versus Everton in front of the North Bank, Smudger in Copenhagen,  Liam Brady at WHL, Kanu at the Bridge, Wiltord at OT, RvP v Barca ++++++.

Which are your favourites and why?

Written  by BigRaddy


Arsène Wenger manages the Dream Team

June 24, 2011

Written by Gooner in Exile

Arsenal.com are currently running an all time dream team vote. The problem with this it is often only the young who vote and recent memory can skew the result.

We have a wide church here with regard to ages so how about we all pick our all time eleven, manager, coach, physio and you can even throw in a few squad players.

One stipulation you must have seen them play or manage whilst you’ve been alive. On second thoughts this could put the younger members of the forum at a disadvantage so perhaps we can allow two wild cards for positions where you believe a player from before your time may have added some.

I’ll start us off:

Seaman

Lauren   Adams  O’Leary  Winterburn

Pires    Vieira  Talbot    Limpar

Bergkamp
Wright

Subs
Henry
Rocastle
Ljungberg
Merson
Campbell
Caesar

Coach : Don Howe
Physio : Gary Lewin

Manager : Arsène Wenger

That was tough and I’ve only been watching them for 29 years, good luck to our older supporters.

So just to say I know that’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea but hey it’s my fantasy you all get to have yours too.

Admittedly some have been chosen for how they did things on the pitch, they may not all be the best in their positions but in the case of a few:

Wright……his pure enthusiasm for the game, affinity with the fans and love of scoring goals and also because of that goal against Big Nev, the whole of Highbury singing Ian Wright Wright Wright for a good ten minutes after he scored it.

Limpar…..I was there when he beat Hooper from the halfway line and it was probably the best goal I ever witnessed at Highbury.

Caesar…..you have to have an anti hero to have a hero, he was always good for a laugh (unfortunately for him we weren’t laughing with him).

So there is the challenge pick away. Don’t ask me to justify my selections I made them in five minutes and will probably change them every ten.